The Greatest Gruesome Gore-Filled Retro Gaming Moments

The-Most-Violent-Retro-Games-Of-All-TimeDespite countless reports over the years linking video games to violence, there’s a sheer lack of evidence connecting pixels to crime. Having said that though, you can understand why the dinosaurs in charge may begin to panic when our TV screens flood red… so let’s stir up some more controversy and celebrate our violent gaming past.

Looking back over the times, it’s almost funny reading some of the claims that were made. For example, the mass hysteria over Mortal Kombat’s violent nature and blood smacking combos is almost laughable today - especially given how primitive the title now looks.

If anything, looking back these once controversial titles are almost comedic in their presentation. The recent advances in technology which have made the likes of Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto’s graphic nature much more realistic, often leave us wondering what all the fuss was about over a cluster of red pixels - something we’re sure will happen once again in a few decades time.

So with this in mind, let’s cast aside the friendship and smash our way back to a time when Nintendo refused to publish gore-filled games.

Mortal Kombat’s Gruesome Fatalities

From cutting your opponent in half with a razor sharp hat to decapitating others with a swift uppercut, Mortal Kombat dared to go where gaming had never gone before. The previously unseen level of violence caused huge controversy around the world as countless youngsters pummelled credits into Midway’s machines.

Unsurprisingly, to date there has been no link between Mortal Kombat and the rise in fight clubs - nor has there ever been a recorded instance of human-shape-shifting-dragons devouring the dazed and helpless.

Carmageddon’s Pedestrian Plowing

Before the release of Carmageddon, most 3D driving games prevented you from ever leaving the twists and turns of any course. These invisible walls often safeguarded spectators, wildlife and various bits of scenery from your lacklustre driving. In 1997 though, all these rules were removed and everything became a target for your deadly driving.

With pedestrians littered all over Carmageddon’s maps, it was inevitable that even the safest drivers would hit several innocent NPCs on their travels. What made this gameplay element a controversial addition wasn’t just the fact it was present, but that players utilising it were rewarded with plenty of points for mowing down a map’s worth of civilians.

Prince Of Persia’s Razor Sharp Deathtraps

Massively ahead of its time in terms of visuals, Prince of Persia’s animation was a sight to behold back in 1989. The liquid movements of the game’s nameless protagonist were incredibly enticing and somewhat a little too real at times.

Throughout the difficult stages were countless pitfalls and enemies to tackle, all of which required the most precise movement of a joystick ever. A single slip of the fiddly controls presented some rather gruesome scenes which could make anyone cringe. From being cut in half by razor sharp teeth doors to landing on a bed of spikes, Jordan Mechner’s creation was anything but shy in terms of dishing out the game over screens.

Splatterhouse’s B-Movie Haunts

With countless nods to various horror films throughout, the Splatterhouse series is a huge celebration of cinematic violence. Using the tried and tested side-scrolling beat-em-up genre, Namco put together an incredibly addictive title which really pumped up the gore.

Although the many enemies within Splatterhouse were fictional beings and anything but human, the various methods of disposing of these mutants were as graphic as it got back then. From slamming creatures into the wall with a metal pole to pummeling them with your bare fists, it’s no wonder the TurboGrafx 16 port of the game came with a warning on the box that read "The horrifying theme of this game may be inappropriate for young children... and cowards."

Grand Theft Auto’s Gouranga

Looking back at the very first iteration of Grand Theft Auto, it’s hard to see what all the fuss was about. With boxy visuals inspired by the likes of Micro Machines, could parents really have been that worried about the influence a collection of digital toy cars had on the youth of yesteryear?

While the content itself could be deemed dangerous to moldable minds, there was little in the way of gore within the game - as long as you could handle the many vehicles dotted around Liberty City. The more reckless amongst us soon learned how to paint the streets red with tyre marks, also claiming an iconic bonus for mowing down a collection of conga-forming Hare Krishnas.

Resident Evil’s Gruesome Game Overs

Unless you’ve been cowering behind the curtains for the last decade or two, you should be well aware that the Resident Evil series focuses on the recurring theme of zombie outbreaks. Cast into the shoes of a lucky/unlucky survivor, you’ll soon find yourself plowing a plethora of shotgun rounds into the walking dead.

This excusable self-defense is still rather gruesome, but the true violence found in Capcom’s survival horror series makes itself present in the sequel’s many varying game over screens. If it wasn’t enough already that you’d fallen victim to the jaws of a flesh hungry zombie, the game will give you a vibrant follow up showcasing what these mindless beings then do to your lifeless corpse.

Blood’s... Blood!

In 1993 ID Software changed the gaming landscape forever with their violence heavy first person shooter Doom. While controversial, it would take a few more more years before the authorities truly began to panic at what gamers were experiencing. GT Interactive had not only upped the ante with Duke Nukem 3D’s adult content, but also the sickeningly brutal adventure Blood.

Following a revenge-driven gunslinger after a dark god, this 1997 FPS featured countless themes of occult and horror, and pints upon pints of blood. With an arsenal of weapons spanning pitchforks, dynamite, napalm launchers, voodoo dolls, aerosol flamethrowers, and sawn-off shotguns, you could guarantee you’d be seeing red for quite sometime.

With many more horror-filled gruesome moments in classic gaming history, dish out the blood below and remind us of any controversies we may have missed.

Last Updated ( 30 October 2014 )  


Better known as Adam offline, Cauterize is one of RetroCollect's final bosses with an unhealthy addiction to pixels. When he's not out searching the web for the latest retro gaming news or creating content for RetroCollect, he'll will most likely be found working on his Sensible Soccer skills.

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+1 (Link to this comment) ollie809 2014-10-31 20:37
prince of persia was a good one!
(Link to this comment) GuyFawkesRetro 2015-06-01 11:36
Ha, those deaths shocked me as a 5 year old....... :-x

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